You can find bad mechanics in the auto repair business just as easily as you can find good ones. This is no different than it would be for the plumbing business or any other skilled or professional trade. I thought I would take a minute to give my opinion on what separates the good and the bad when it comes to solving auto repair problems.
Two things prompted me to write this article. One I received an e-mail from a site visitor that was about a 1000 words that intimately described a bad experience they had with a particular shop and what they considered a group of bad mechanics.
The second thing is I work with a mechanic that is gaining a bad reputation even though he has about 20 years of experience and has certainly taught me a few tricks as I am heading into my 26th year of being a certified master technician. I work with 14 other mechanics and there is a lot of finger-pointing about who does the right thing and who does the wrong thing.
So that I am not singling out a particular person I am going to change the details of the car problem while keeping the integrity of the lesson to be learned. It is my hope that an example of automobile diagnosis done wrong would help people seeking solutions to their own auto repair problems.
How bad mechanics handle auto repair problems
In this instance when I say bad mechanics I really believe that it’s more accurate to say a lazy mechanic because I know for a fact this guy knows his stuff. The specific example is on a domestic truck that came in with the check engine light on.
The mechanic pulled a trouble code for an EGR malfunction. When he pulled up the online auto repair manual page that contained the diagnostic chart for the code there was a quick link to a technical service bulletin stating that the manufacturer had seen many EGR valve failures on this year, make and model truck?
Without even opening the hood or performing any additional diagnostics the mechanic ordered an EGR valve to solve this auto repair problem. The part arrived and he installed it then cleared the codes and took the vehicle for a ride. Within 2 miles the check engine light came back on and set the same code for an EGR malfunction. The mechanic approached me and stated that he had been having a run of bad luck lately and wondered if I could take a look? My first thought was, what does luck have to do with car repair? Curious I decided to give him a hand to see what the specific problem was.
On this particular vehicle there is a five volt reference signal sent from the computer to the electronic EGR valve. When I broke out my automotive meter and tested the wire that should have 5 Volts on it there was nothing. I checked the fuse and found no blown fuses. I started to trace the wiring harness back and found a section of the EGR wiring harness that had been chewed through by some type of critter.
Is this guy a bad mechanic?
I believe the answer to this question is no; he has just gotten a little lazy. After we worked together and he saw my path of diagnosis he started banging his head against the truck. He kept saying over and over again that he “knows better” then to jump to conclusions when it comes to solving auto repair problems.
He further explained that if he didn’t see that technical service bulletin pointing out that many EGR’s had failed that he would’ve followed the same diagnostic steps that I had. When it comes to electrical and emission components they are usually nonrefundable. So although we fixed the problem with a minor wiring repair there was no returning the part itself.
I tell this story because we are all human and we can all get lazy, take shortcuts and make mistakes. But when it comes to getting your personal auto repair problems solved you want to make sure that your mechanic is taking the time to perform proper diagnosis by asking all the right questions.
If the shop states you have a bad sensor ask them what steps they took to diagnose it. Then ask them if they guarantee that the replacement of the part will solve that particular problem. Let the car repair shop know that you understand good and bad mechanics all make mistakes, but that you are not willing to pay for it.
Being an auto mechanic is not an easy job and I respect all that take the time to learn the profession. Not only is there a lot of time and money invested in the training but also the tools and equipment required to do the job properly. If you doubt what I say I have a previous article that talks about how to become a car mechanic. Or you can head back to this blogs main page for more auto repair information articles.